RuMEYSA – New book invites readers on a journey through Sufi tradition

New book invites readers on a journey through Sufi traditionSufism has been a source great interest for many people from all religions and cultures, and its influence is perpetually growing, especially in the West. With their tradition of divine love and unity, Sufi masters have guided many souls and they continue to do so.

Albion-Andalus Books recently published the first volume of a worthwhile book series on Sufism titled “The Garden of Mystic Love: The Origin and Formation of the Great Sufi Orders.” Written by Gregory Blann, also known as Muhammad Jamal al-Jerrahi, the book provides insight on Sufism from the time of the Prophet Muhammad until the 1900s.

Besides presenting a valuable history of Sufism, with its focus on the Turkish Sufi legacy and the path of the Halveti-Jerrahi order of dervishes — of which Blann is a sheikh — the book also manages to give specialized information on Sufi spirituality with references to stories, teachings, poetry and the lives of Sufi masters.The book consists of three sections that come together chronologically to let the reader follow the Sufi tradition through time.

In the first section, titled “Mystic Love: The Heart of Islam,” Blann talks about renouncing paradise for the sake of love and how Adam and Eve’s departure from paradise to dwell on earth is the starting point for Sufi ideas. In the same section, Blann discusses early figures of Islam who were important to Sufism such as the first caliphs, the Ashab-i Suffa, Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah, and Salman al-Farsi.

He also dedicates a chapter to the noble women of the Prophet’s household. He closes this section with a discussion of Uways al-Qarani and a chapter on the concepts of repentance, love and mastery.

In the second section, titled “Rise of Sufism,” Blann gives a historical overview of the early period of Islam and the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence and dedicates a whole chapter to Hasan al-Basri, a theologian and preacher influential in the eighth century. Blann then moves on to other notable early Sufis such as Al-Fozail ibn Iyaz, Ibrahim ibn Adham, Rabia Basri and Abdullah ibn Mubarak.

In this section, Blann emphasizes Pir Junayd al-Baghdadi, one of the founding pirs (Sufi masters) of the order He gives special importance to Junayd’s four stages of Tawhid, the concept of oneness with god, while also sparing chapters for the political climate of Baghdad in Junayd’s time, the Shiite perspective and charges of heresy against Sufis in Baghdad, again in Junayd’s time. Blann finishes this section with Mansur Al-Hallaj, who is a great mystic and Sufi master whose writings are still read and taught by many Muslims around the world.

In the last section, titled “The Middle Period: The Formation of the Great Sufi Orders,” Blann focuses on the development of Sufi orders in the period after the Crusades. He especially focuses on Abu’l Khayr, Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, Sheikh Ahmad al-Ghazali and Pir Abu-Najib as-Suhrawardi, while again mentioning other notable Sufis of the period.

With the concluding sections of his book, Blann expands the knowledge on Sufism and builds a valuable timeline with stories, memories, lines from the Quran and texts from masters.At first glance, the impression is given that the book is about important figures in Sufism On closer look, though, it reveals itself to be an essential guide on the understanding of the history and development of Sufi tradition.

In the introduction of the book, Robert Frager, also known as Sheikh Ragip al-Jerrahi, a Harvard-trained social psychologist who is famous for his books “Essential Sufism” and “Heart, Self, and Soul: The Sufi Psychology of Growth, Balance, and Harmony,” writes: “Beyond the horizon of biography, this book seeks to unfold the path of mystic love as it passes through various phases in history, each stage timelessly representing a ‘makam’ or station, on the path of spiritual realization.”As Frager points out, Blann’s book takes the reader on a journey starting at the very beginning of Islam and spanning the centuries of Sufism as spiritual enlightenment.

Frager also discusses the meaning of mystic love, writing, “By ‘mystic love’ we mean to indicate non-dual love, in which the soul awakens from its sense of separation into its own Essential Source, becoming the Beloved which it loves.”“Thus, mystic love is not fixated on any material object of love, nor a remote deity, but is a subjectless, objectless expression of union within the One All-Pervading Reality,” Blann continues.

By reading Blann’s book, with all its wisdom and beauties, the reader takes a decisive step towards a closer understanding of such love.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman